Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Succop

Here’s a breakdown of the Kansas City Chiefs’ salary-cap picture on defense and special teams. In an earlier post I broke down their salary-cap situation on offense.

Defensive ends

Salary-cap commitments: $6,649,267

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 5.1

NFL average: $12,840,629

Chiefs rank on DE spending: 25th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending only about half of the league average on these positions. For purposes of this discussion, Mike DeVito is labelled as an end because he’s basically a run defender who comes out of the game on passing downs. He makes up most of the Chiefs’ cap spending at this spot with a figure of $4.9 million.

Defensive tackles

Salary-cap commitments: $5,407,274

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 4.2

NFL average: $8,979,256

Chiefs rank on DT spending: 22nd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are again well below the league average here (about 40 percent below) and that’s counting not only Dontari Poe but Vance Walker as tackles. Poe is still playing under his rookie contract and has a cap number of $3,087,274. That’s only 27th highest among NFL defensive tackles.

Linebackers

Salary-cap commitments: $23,066,768

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 17.8

NFL average: $15,526,469

Chiefs rank on LB spending: 5th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend more than 50 percent beyond the league average at linebacker, but they’re getting their money’s worth. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson on the inside are each working on a string of at least two consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Hali alone accounts for about half ($11,464,706)of the Chiefs’ cap commitments at this position. Johnson ($4,550,000) and Houston ($1,598,812) are bargains.

Cornerbacks

Salary-cap commitments: $19,886,878

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 15.4

NFL average: $12,150,127

Chiefs rank on CB spending: 3rd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend about 67 percent more for their cornerbacks than the NFL average. One starter, Brandon Flowers, has the third-highest salary-cap number for an NFL cornerback ($10,500,000) while the other, Sean Smith, is 16th ($5,750,000). No other Chiefs cornerback has a cap figure above $1 million.

Safeties

Salary-cap commitments: $13,319,700

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 10.3

NFL average: $8,333,907

Chiefs rank on safety spending: 6th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend about 67 percent more than the league average at this position, mainly because of Eric Berry and his cap number of $11,619,700. Berry was drafted fifth overall in 2010, the last year before the NFL overhauled rookie contracts, so he’s benefitting from the huge deal he signed then. Berry has the highest salary-cap number for a safety and the only one over $10.1 million.

Kicker

Salary-cap commitments: $2,708,750

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 2.1

NFL average: $1,864,515

Chiefs rank on kicker spending: 8th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs have about 47 percent more committed to Ryan Succop than the average NFL team does to its kicker.

Punter

Salary-cap commitments: $3,800,000

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 2.9

NFL average: $1,706,906

Chiefs rank on punter spending: 2nd among 32 teams

Analysis: Here’s another sign the Chiefs value their kicking specialists more than some other teams. Re-signing Dustin Colquitt to a new contract was a priority for general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid when they were hired last year. His cap number is more than twice that of the average NFL punter.

Long-snapper

Salary-cap commitments: $595,000

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: .5

NFL average: $838,863

Chiefs rank on LS spending: 23rd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefssigned Thomas Gafford to his second straight one-year contract worth the NFL minimum.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs made big improvement on special teams last season but could lose some key components to free agency.

Roster: Key contributors include kicker Ryan Succop, punter Dustin Colquitt, long snapper Thomas Gafford, punt returner Dexter McCluster, kickoff returners Knile Davis and Quintin Demps and blockers/coverage players Akeem Jordan, Anthony Sherman and Husain Abdullah.

Potential 2014 free agents among these players: Gafford, McCluster, Demps, Jordan and Abdullah.

The position: The Chiefs had one of the best special teams in the league last season. They scored five touchdowns, allowed none and set an NFL record for kickoff return average. That's threatened by the possible loss of McCluster and Demps. The decision whether to re-sign them is complicated by their roles on offense or defense. McCluster doesn't produce enough as a receiver to demand a big contract, so the Chiefs shouldn't give him one. While he did a nice job as a punt returner, he benefited from some great blocking at times. The Chiefs can find another returner who can do what McCluster does, though that won't necessarily be easy. Demps is a backup and if he's willing to accept backup money, he should be re-signed. Succop did a nice job on kickoffs and though he missed the clutch field goal attempt in the final regular season game in San Diego, he's made plenty of big kicks before. He also bounced back in the playoff game by making all three of his field goal attempts. Colquitt is pricey for a punter, but worth it. He consistently helps the Chiefs win the field position battle. Gafford is a generally reliable veteran but the Chiefs looked around before re-signing him last year and may have wandering eyes again. If the Chiefs lose Jordan and Abdullah, they might have a difficult time in finding players to replace them.

The Chiefs should keep: Succop, Colquitt, Davis, Demps, Jordan, Sherman and Abdullah.

The Chiefs should dump: Gafford and McCluster.

Free agency/draft priority: If the Chiefs lose McCluster and Demps, they'll need to find a replacement return specialist. Otherwise, they should always be looking for players to help in the kicking game.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs appeared on their way to their first defeat of the season early in the third quarter of their Nov. 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. At the very least, they were in some serious trouble.

Smith
The Bills led 10-3 and were threatening to give the Chiefs their first double-digit deficit of the season. On a third-and-goal from the Kansas City 1, Buffalo rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel made an inexplicable decision that turned the game around.

Instead of making an easy pass to Buffalo’s best wide receiver, Stevie Johnson, who was uncovered in the end zone, Tuel threw into a crowd at the goal line.

There, Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, the player who was supposed to cover Johnson, made the interception. Smith had mostly open field on his 100-yard touchdown return that tied the game at 10-10. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on five interceptions during the season, tying for the league high.

The Chiefs would score another defensive touchdown that day, this one on an 11-yard fumble return by linebacker Tamba Hali.They would go on to extend their record to 9-0 with a 23-13 win where the scoring consisted of the two defensive touchdowns and three field goals from Ryan Succop.

The Chiefs had season lows that day in yards and first downs, but won anyway in large part because of lousy play from another opposing backup quarterback. Starting with their Oct. 6 game against the Tennessee Titans, the Chiefs faced five straight quarterbacks who began training camp as the backup. Four of those quarterbacks were installed as the starter only for that week’s game against the Chiefs.

In the case of Tuel, an undrafted rookie, he was Buffalo’s fourth-string quarterback forced into their lineup because of a series of injuries to the quarterbacks on the depth chart ahead of him.

The Chiefs’ incredible run against inferior opposing quarterbacks would end in their subsequent game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Not coincidentally, their defensive fortunes would change, too.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 45-44 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

What it means: The 2013 Chiefs are among history's most infamous playoff teams. The Chiefs led 38-10 early in Saturday's third quarter before an epic collapse. The blown lead of 28 points is the second-biggest in NFL playoff history, behind the 32-point margin coughed up by the Houston Oilers against the Buffalo Bills in 1993. The Chiefs lost their eighth consecutive playoff game in a streak dating back 20 years.

Stock watch: Quarterback Alex Smith set a franchise record for touchdown passes with four. The touchdowns went to four different receivers. Joe Montana held the old record of three, in Kansas City's most recent playoff victory, in January 1994 against the Oilers. But Smith lost a fumble in the third quarter with the Chiefs ahead 38-17, and it led to an Indianapolis touchdown. Wide receiver Donnie Avery left the game late in the first half with a concussion and caught only one pass, a 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Chiefs a 17-7 lead, their first double-digit advantage of the game. They never led by fewer than 10 points until the fourth quarter. Outside linebacker Justin Houston had a sack and a fumble recovery in his first game since suffering a dislocated elbow Nov. 24 against San Diego. Nickel safety Husain Abdullah had two interceptions. After missing the potential game-winning field goal attempt in the final seconds of Sunday's game in San Diego, Ryan Succop made all three of his tries.

Concussion for Charles: The Chiefs lost running back Jamaal Charles on their first possession with a concussion; they still scored a franchise record for points in a playoff game without him. His backup, rookie Knile Davis, scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter and a 10-yard catch in the third quarter. Davis left the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter, leaving Cyrus Gray and Dexter McCluster to finish the game at running back. The Chiefs also lost starting cornerback Brandon Flowers to a concussion. Houston injured his leg late in the game and did not return.

What's next: The Chiefs lost five of their final seven regular-season games before collapsing against the Colts.

Succop has earned another chance

January, 1, 2014
Jan 1
4:00
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs are staying with the struggling Ryan Succop as their placekicker for Saturday’s wild-card round playoff game against the Colts in Indianapolis. Succop has earned the right to keep kicking for the Chiefs and don’t be surprised if he eventually rewards the Chiefs for his patience.

“He knows he needs to get everybody’s confidence back,’’ special teams coach Dave Toub said. “Coaches, players. He just needs to make a bunch of kicks in a row here now. These ones coming up in the playoffs, they’re critical.’’

Succop has missed three of his last four field goal attempts, none more critical than the 41-yarder try he sent wide to the right in the final seconds of the fourth quarter last Sunday in San Diego. The kick would have won the game for the Chiefs.

Instead, the game went to overtime, where it was won by the Chargers.

Succop started the season making 21 of his 24 field goal attempts before his recent slump.

“He needs to focus on this (next) kick,’’ Toub said. “Those other kicks are gone. We know he was thinking about those other (failed) kicks.’’

Succop has hit plenty of clutch kicks for the Chiefs in his five seasons. He is tough-minded enough to overcome his recent problems.

“He’s set all-time records here in Kansas City,’’ said punter Dustin Colquitt, who holds on field goal attempts. “He’s obviously one of the better kickers that’s ever played here. He’s exceptional inside 40. He hits a lot of field goals in cold weather games and windy games here at Arrowhead. He kicks off better than anybody I’ve ever played with.

“He’s been in good spirits. You’ve got to have a thick skin to play in this league whether you’re a quarterback or a kicker or anything in between. He’s doing (well). He hit all of his kicks (Tuesday).’’

Are kicking woes rising for Chiefs again?

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
12:15
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The 41-yard Ryan Succop field goal attempt that went wide to the right in the final seconds of the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss in San Diego could be a bad omen for the Kansas City Chiefs as they head into the playoffs.

The franchise has been tortured by missed field goals in the postseason perhaps as much or more than any other team. Jan Stenerud later would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame but had one of the worst days of his career in the Christmas Day playoff game against the Miami Dolphins in 1971. Stenerud missed three field goal attempts and the Chiefs lost in overtime 27-24, the same score as in Sunday's overtime loss to the Chargers.

Lin Elliott missed three field goal attempts on a brutally cold day in January 1996 in a three-point playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Nick Lowery came up inches short on a 52-yard try that would have beat the Dolphins in a one-point loss in 1991. Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot in a January 2007 game in Indianapolis.

As Pro Football Talk first reported, the Chargers should have been penalized for having seven players on one side of the ball for Succop's attempt. The NFL has acknowledged the officiating error. The correct call would have allowed Succop to try again, this time from 36 yards.

But as Succop would tell you, he should have made the 41-yard kick to begin with. San Diego's penalty had no bearing on his ability to put the ball through the uprights.

Succop is a tough-minded guy, perhaps as much or more so than any other kicker. He's made plenty of clutch kicks before and this failure shouldn't drag him down.

But given Kansas City's playoff field goal history, it's fair to wonder.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
7:41
PM ET

SAN DIEGO -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Chiefs have some good backup players. They took the Chargers deep into the fourth quarter before San Diego tied the score and then outlasted the Chiefs in overtime. Because the Chiefs were locked into the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs, a victory was meaningless. So coach Andy Reid rested 20 of Kansas City’s 22 starters, including all 11 on defense. With Chase Daniel making his first NFL start, the Chiefs put in a solid effort on both sides of the ball and almost denied the Chargers the AFC’s final playoff spot. The Chiefs finished the regular season at 11-5, an improvement of nine wins over 2012.

Stock watch: Rookie running back Knile Davis, playing for Jamaal Charles, started his first NFL game and delivered 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Daniel played about as well as the Chiefs could expect, completing 21 of 30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. Daniel also ran for 59 yards. An offensive line comprised of four backups and rookie right tackle Eric Fisher kept Daniel from being under consistent pressure and opened some nice holes for Davis. Cornerback Ron Parker had an interception to set up a Kansas City touchdown. Kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a 41-yard field-goal attempt with eight seconds left in regulation that would have won the game for the Chiefs.

What's next: Heading to Indianapolis. The Chiefs will play the Colts in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The 11-5 Colts, winners of the AFC South, beat the Chiefs 23-7 at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 22 by forcing four turnovers while committing none of their own. The Colts have beaten the Chiefs all three times the teams have met in the playoffs, in the 1995, 2003 and 2006 seasons.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs needed all the points they could get in last week’s game against the high-scoring Broncos in Denver. But they made the proper decision in not having kicker Ryan Succop try a 64-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

In similar future situations, they should pass again.

Holliday
The Chiefs sent Succop and the field goal team on the field for the last play of the half while trailing 17-10. They weren’t certain where the ball would be spotted because of a Denver penalty on the previous play.

Once they saw it would be a 64-yard attempt, they bailed. The Chiefs brought Succop and the field goal team back to the sideline and sent the offense on the field in its place.

The Chiefs weren’t necessarily afraid of the long kick. It was probably out of Succop’s range, but Denver’s altitude would have given it a chance.

They weren’t necessarily afraid of having a kick blocked because of the low trajectory a long kick requires. Succop had a 57-yard attempt blocked earlier this season against the Dallas Cowboys.

What the Chiefs feared, and what made the decision to not kick the field goal the right one, was that the Broncos sent Trindon Holliday back to return a possible short field goal. Holliday has returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns this season.

The thought of having a bunch of offensive linemen on the field to block for the kick trying to chase down Holliday if Succop missed was too much for the Chiefs to bear.

“That’s not a good situation to be in,’’ Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub said.

“I’d love to have a team try those long ones (against the Chiefs). We’d throw Dexter (McCluster) back there in that kind of situation. We have a return that we would run. It puts a lot of stress on the field goal unit when you try something like that. You’ve got to know you’d make it.’’

Locker Room Buzz: Kansas City Chiefs

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
5:29
PM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-17 win over the Cleveland Browns:

Reid
Momentum changer: Coach Andy Reid had no regrets about having Ryan Succop try a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter, with the Chiefs ahead 13-0. Succop’s kick was long enough, but slightly wide to the left. It took Cleveland just two plays to use the resulting favorable field position to score its first touchdown to cut the deficit to 13-7. “He had been bombing those [kicks] before the game,’’ Reid said.

Home run hitter: Former Kansas City Royals infielder George Brett, a Hall of Famer, was in attendance. He grabbed a drumstick and beat on a big bass drum on the field shortly before kickoff to help fire up the fans at Arrowhead Stadium. “George Brett looked like he can still swing,’’ Reid said. “It was great to see him out there. I know he’s a big football fan.’’

Rookie mistake: Guard Jeff Allen had to wait for rookie tackle Eric Fisher to finish his postgame Q&A session with the media because it was conducted right in front of Allen’s locker. Asked whether Fisher’s move was worthy of a fine, Allen said, “It definitely is.’’

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

October, 27, 2013
10/27/13
4:11
PM ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts after the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-17 win over the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Chiefs, the last of the NFL’s unbeaten teams, raised their record to 8-0 and assured themselves of retaining sole possession of first place in the AFC West regardless of how the Denver Broncos fare in their late-afternoon game against the Washington Redskins.

Stock watch: The Chiefs entered the game leading the NFL in sacks with 35 but were held without one by the Browns until the fourth quarter. Justin Houston got the sack, but even then it was the product of good coverage downfield more than great pressure by the Chiefs. Tamba Hali had been one of the league’s hottest pass-rushers, but matched up mostly against left tackle Joe Thomas, he rarely got close to Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell. Cornerback Sean Smith had a rough game, first biting on a flea flicker to leave Josh Gordon alone for Cleveland’s first touchdown, and later getting beaten deep by tight end Jordan Cameron. Quarterback Alex Smith had one of his most productive games. He threw a pair of touchdown passes, his first in four weeks. Dexter McCluster had seven receptions, including a 28-yard touchdown.

Unproductive second-half offense: After rolling up 20 points in the first half, the Chiefs were scoreless in the second half until Ryan Succop kicked a field goal with 17 seconds left. The Browns had allowed 31 points in each of their previous two games. The Chiefs even got a break in the fourth quarter when Cleveland’s Davone Bess, who had possession at one point, fumbled a punt return without being hit. The Chiefs recovered near midfield, but couldn’t take advantage of the favorable field position. Smith was sacked five times in the second half.

What’s next: The Chiefs are back on the road for the first time in almost a month when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills next Sunday. The last time the Chiefs were undefeated so late in the season was 2003, when they beat the Browns at Arrowhead Stadium to go 9-0. They went on the road the following week and lost to Cincinnati.

Chiefs create more needed cap space

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
7:30
AM ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs recently restructured the contracts of cornerback Brandon Flowers and kicker Ryan Succop to create some much-needed salary-cap room. Following those moves, the Chiefs have about $2.75 million of available cap space.

That’s important for a couple of reasons. First, the Chiefs have a little to spend if injury strikes and they need to sign a free agent or make a trade for a replacement.

It also gives them a little freedom if they want before the end of the season to sign one or more of their upcoming free agents to contract extensions. Among the players in the last season of a contract and scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next year: left tackle Branden Albert, guards Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, defensive lineman Tyson Jackson and free safety Kendrick Lewis.

Flowers saw his salary reduced from $7.35 million to $3.35 million. His cap number was reduced from $9.6 million to $6.6 million.

Succop saw his 2013 salary reduced from $1.95 million to $715,000 and his salary-cap number trimmed from $2.4 million to $1,473,750.

Chiefs roster predictions, part I

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
7:00
AM ET
Not much intrigue left to the preseason for the Kansas City Chiefs. Just trying to stay healthy through Thursday night’s final exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium.

That, and the final round of roster cuts that loom afterward. The Chiefs, like all NFL teams, must trim their active roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday evening.

Here’s my prediction on how their roster will look for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla., at offensive positions and in the kicking game. I’ll post defensive predictions later today.

Quarterback (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray. This might be the only position where there is no intrigue. They are set and in this order on the depth chart.

Running back (4): Jamaal Charles, Anthony Sherman, Knile Davis, Shaun Draughn. The only real mystery here is whether the Chiefs keep Draughn or Cyrus Gray as the third halfback. Draughn has been more productive than Gray. The Chiefs don’t use their fullback enough to keep more than just Sherman.

Wide receiver (6): Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster, Junior Hemingway, Devon Wylie, A.J. Jenkins. This position has come into focus since the Chiefs traded Jon Baldwin and released Terrance Copper. Bowe and Avery are the starters, McCluster the slot receiver. Hemingway has been steady during camp and the preseason and deserves a spot. Wiley and Jenkins are fast, and coach Andy Reid likes speed. The Chiefs might also keep undrafted rookie Rico Richardson, who caught the touchdown pass in overtime in Pittsburgh last week, but I’m not going to predict that.

Tight end (4): Anthony Fasano, Tony Moeaki, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris. The shoulder injury to Moeaki might lead the Chiefs to place him on the injured-reserve list. Either way, the Chiefs will need to keep another tight end now, and that’s likely to be Harris. A former basketball player who didn’t play football in college, Harris needs more time to develop, so the Chiefs might be in search of veteran help at this position.

Offensive line (8): Branden Albert, Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush. Stephenson is too good to be a backup for long. He and Schwartz will be the first reserves off the bench. Kush is a developmental player.

Specialists (3): Ryan Succop, Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Gafford. They’re the only players still on the roster at their respective positions.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider